Thursday, April 12, 2007

Making Darfur Matter

click the graphic to listen to an audio file of today's feature articles (m4a audio file, 12MB)

From the United For Peace and Justice National Steering Committee (Daily rEvolution is a supporting member group of UFPJ):

UFPJ Statement on Impeachment

George Bush, Dick Cheney and other top administration officials have committed impeachable offenses.

These include leading the country into war under false pretenses, ordering violations of the Geneva Conventions, the U.N Charter and International law; violating the civil liberties of U.S. people in an unconstitutional manner; lying to the people of the U.S. and the world; and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

There is growing awareness of these facts among the U.S. people. From across the country there are demands that the Congress act on the principle that this is a government of laws, not of individuals. There is a grassroots movement demanding that Bush and Cheney and others be impeached.

Since its formation, UFPJ’s central mission has been working to end the war in Iraq and other wars of which George Bush is Commander in Chief. We welcome the growing movement to impeach him and others in his administration who have aided and abetted his crimes.

Some of our member groups and friends are already active in Impeach07, an umbrella forum in the impeachment movement. Others may see ways to incorporate impeachment efforts into their antiwar agendas, and we encourage them to do so.

"More Americans agree with the assessment that 'today it's really true that the rich just get richer while the poor get poorer.' Today, 73% feel that way, up from 65% five years ago." (from a recent survey cited in Mother Jones magazine)

About Darfur: Is this a hopeless situation, merely because the U.S. can't do its shock-and-awe thing on Sudan or spare 100 (let alone 100,000) troops? Save Darfur is asking Bush to pull out "Plan B," and that's one viable strategy. They're also organizing Global Days for Darfur, a series of protests and demonstrations later this month across the country, to awaken the government and media about the need for international action.

Another potential strategy on easing the humanitarian crisis is to use some economic strong-arm tactics that the U.S. government has used before, but to far less salubrious ends. I was reminded of this possibility by watching this video of John Perkins, the "economic hit man," which was sent to me by our good friends at World Wide Renaissance. If those tactics can be used to help fatten the bank accounts of corporate executives and shareholders, why can't they be used to help the innocent and ease injustice? Just a thought.

In any event, neither resignation nor apathy are acceptable responses when it comes to genocide. Use the links above to get involved in a worldwide No to group slaughter and institutional madness, and if you can afford it, give the folks who are organizing these things some money.

And in case you're wondering how bad it really is in Darfur, the geeks at Google Earth have some stuff for you to see.


What follows is a brief excerpt from the book I'm working on, which is to be a guide for people working in corporate America on how to hold onto one's individual dignity in a time where the pallid corporate values of economic disparity, ad-driven superficiality, and a narrow, punitive group morality are ascendant. Keep in mind, this is first-draft material, so if you have suggestions or criticism, by all means post them to the comments; I'll be very grateful.

The natural society is built upon the individual, and the relationships between individuals. So it is also natural that the individual's interests should lead, and the group should follow. No corporate entity should determine what the individual chooses, how he lives, or what he thinks or feels.

It is the same with national or regional affiliation. Patriotism must be toward the planet we live on and share with all the creatures and things of Nature; we have no other. After and subsidiary to that patriotism comes our love of country, state, region, community, or what have you. There can be no other practical ordering of patriotism, because to put a national in-group's interests ahead of the planet's would be to endanger the lives of our children and theirs.

This is a platform that we will all have to agree upon, if we are to build a viable future for our kids, and give them a chance at a safe and sustainable world in which to live and create their own new generation of youth. How it might be realized or what forms it might take in the fields of action and innovation are as unpredictable as they are diverse. This is fine, because when we allow the individual some primacy in the culture, and put love of planet ahead of love of country, then people will naturally find ways of creating and connecting that will deliver the solutions we need for our world. We would find that the mail room guy has as much (if not more) to offer as the CEO; that there is invention in the heart of the local car mechanic or the construction worker that could help deliver us from the dangers of global warming or poverty.

But the corporate model of society prevents all of this beneficial movement: its strain of elitism tells us that only a few elect people—the "alphas" of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World—can conceive, plan, or recognize the innovations and creations that will best move society forward. It tells us that the vast majority of people are useful only in the role of mechanical parts that move in a forced synchrony to implement the corporate vision for the enrichment and comfort of the few—the executives and stockholders who control the purse strings and hold the power over the organization, which in turn controls the government.

The problem with this corporate model and the elitism that fuels it is that it is impractical—that is to say, it fails, time and again. Indeed, it has been failing for thousands of years, virtually as long as the time for which we have historical records. And it isn't hard to figure out why. Elitism has failed, and continues to fail, because it excludes a vast array of potential resources. In fact, it would be a conservative estimate to say that 90% of the potential for growth and innovation in our culture is suppressed—structurally removed from the creativity-development cycle of social progress—by the very corporate model that claims to have been designed for the good of all.

Imagine if you decided one day that your body would best be served if you appointed one or two of its parts—say the right arm and left leg—to hold supreme power over all the other components of your body. These two parts would make decisions about what the others should do, how much, and how little, to serve what the primary two saw as the good of the whole. This is in fact what we tend to do in our culture, but we usually appoint the brain—specifically the forebrain intellect and left brain verbal mind—to perform the role of the CEO of the psyche. The other organs and functions of the body—heart, lungs, digestive tract, muscles, even the spine—are given supporting roles and clear, limited directives on what they are to do and how much.

The corporate model fails not because it asks people to do too much, but because it allows them to do so little.

The Wine Messenger

The Lesson of 500 Posts

Yesterday, we briefly noted that we'd made it to 500 posts here. The truth is that there are plenty more than that, but when we moved the site over to Blogger in 2005, we could only manually convert, so a lot of the archives from the old home site got left behind.

That said, there is a lesson of sorts in this steady flow of content. Blogging, I have found, is the surest cure for writer's block. I recommend that every writer take up a blog, even if you don't mean to work on it seriously or regularly. I started mine just as a place to keep notes for essays and books, and it evolved by itself to whatever it is now.

One of the personal lessons for me of keeping this blog going these past two and a half years has been about the true source of any creative endeavor. It doesn't matter if the work produced is often of a rather undistinguished artistic quality or questionable social utility (that certainly is true here). What matters is that something gets done at all. A famous novelist whose name I can't recall once said that everyone wants to have written a novel, but very, very few want to actually go through the process of writing one.

I rarely know what is going to go on tomorrow's DR post, because I'm usually too busy during the day with earning my bread in corporate America to think much about it. But I have learned to have a certain confidence, based on recurrent experience, in the invisible, guiding hands that prompt me at just the right time to produce whatever is right for the moment and my admittedly mediocre ability. Briefly put, nothing has to be forced.

One of the things I teach in my counseling practice and my books is that there are unseen cosmic energies that, if allowed, can guide, teach, and heal better than any purely human or mechanical energy can. In the I Ching, where I learned a great deal of this, they are called "helpers." Think of quantum energy with a specific purpose or sub-atomic spirit guides that know what they're doing, usually better than you do. It's not that I believe in them (or anything else, in fact); it's that I have experienced their presence, time and again.

That said, I don't go in for the "Footprints" stuff: helpers are our equals, not our gods. Whenever we make the effort to follow, they will lead; where we put in our share of the work of change, they will guide us in transformation. But if you're expecting to be carried around through life by a spirit, a god, a lover, or a spouse, then I think you're dealing in one of the most destructive delusions of our culture. So I would encourage you to call for help from those invisible energies of progress, protection, and transformation. But be sure that your footprints, too, are left there in the sand.

Yesterday, we had a little fun with the notion of a Blogger's Code of Conduct. Experience has taught me that the code of conduct is built into the very act of creating and presenting content for the public. A blogger is not a journalist, not a scholar, not an accepted member of any social in-group; bloggers are more like voices in the wilderness, feeding on the freedom and the frequent anonymity of their profession and their position in society.

That carries with it, if anything, even more responsibility than the stiff ethical codes of a profession like journalism or broadcasting; because the blogger can't just ask himself, "is what I am doing legal and within the limits defined for me in the code of conduct?" No: the blogger must go a little deeper than that and ask "am I truly serving the natural audience for my message? and am I following the voice of a living truth, or trapping my feet (not to mention my readers) in the concrete of a fixed belief?"

Here, I have definitely found that invisible helping energies make all the difference, and have the capacity to lead us out of the dangerous swamp of belief, whenever we stray into its murky edges. In a darkness such as we have experienced these past six years or so, it is relatively easy to be infected with the demons--thus, we see the shit-slinging and pissing contests that so define our mainstream media (more than they do the blogosphere, by the way).

Coulter, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Robertson, Savage, and Imus are all within the grip of the mainstream broadcast and publishing media. Their feast of hatred is made possible by media giants in cable TV and radio, or the Rupert Murdoch publishing machine. None of these unfortunate people could blog their way out of a wet paper bag. That is because they are showmen first--of the most odious, P.T. Barnum variety--actors second, and demagogues third. Journalists? Please, don't make me puke.

Much of the reason why the work of these people is as dead in its quality as it is shrill in its voice is that they imagine that they are the source of truth and insight. This, of course, is a self-limiting falsehood which actually kills truth faster than a George Bush press conference.

Creativity of any stripe or quality is a three-way relationship between the author of the content, his or her audience, and those unseen presences that I spoke of earlier. The absence of any of these will cause the quality of the content to suffer, often irremediably.

So if you are a writer (and even if you're not), I would invite you to try an experiment for yourself, to test these ideas in the crucible of your own experience. Try writing a blog post or an essay or a short story or a book "by yourself"--with no thought of your audience or the quantum source of the energy that makes creativity possible. Then do it again another time, while you consciously call for help from the invisible world and ask that you be brought into an inner connection with the natural audience for your material. Compare those two experiences, and see which you would prefer as an ongoing approach to the creative process. Let me know what you find out.

And once again, thanks as always to our extraordinary readers, without whom this blog would be a pale and solipsistic endeavor.


Anonymous said...

Hello Brian. TM here. enjoyed and agreed to most. oddly, i'm not seeing Imus as a hate perveyor, just a guy whose gotta fill 20 hours a week on content, and sometimes misses the mark. i listen on rare occasions, and don't see anything like ann coulter or mike savage... who are full of venom.

Brian Donohue said...

Well, partner, check out Herbert's column in the Times today. This clown Imus has been spewing racial ordure from his mouth for a long time. Why hasn't he been stopped before? Because he delivers to his corporate owners a profit that makes looking the other way pretty easy. "Missing the mark" is one thing; consistently spouting racism for money is another. This guy's made more money with this foul act than you and I will make in our lifetimes. Doesn't that register with anyone?

As long as the system feeds these sick people, then the airwaves will be filled with their poison. And until these corporations learn to form a broader concept of profit in their narrow, troll-like brains, the only force that will stop this shit is us, turning off the radio and the TV and refusing to buy the products advertised on these sickos programs.

Anonymous said...

i read Herbert and in fact, i sent him a comment. i don't listen to don imus regularly, but comedians put on a costume and more or less roll with it. imus's costume was put on in an era when his jokes were apparently more acceptible. in any case, none if his jokes were anywhere near as toxic as the rants we get on right wing talk radio that spew genuine venom but without bad words. the rutgers team are athletes and champions. most of them have probably heard all sorts of catcalls for years. can't believe that imus made them the genuinely upset except as a pose.

Brian Donohue said...

Humor like that is "acceptable" at no time and by no one, except the corporate profiteers that get fat on the money hauled in by that foulness. But once the dollar-bill dress is torn off the body of racism, it is seen in its decrepit and loathsome nudity. I wish there were a sugary coating to be added to any of this, but all I see is a culture rotting in its arrogant laze of unearned profit--money made cheaply and without honest effort. The ultimate responsibility for correcting this must lie with us, the people who listen to the radio, watch the tube, and buy the products advertised thereon. We'll be making that a prominent theme in the coming weeks here.

Anonymous said...

again, i don't think this is about racism, but about overreaction. if overreaction only came about over the sort of joke imus made, then it would be one thing. but overreactions happen all the time, just try to write honestly about the situation with Israel and the Palestinians. or about our overreaction as a people to sexual matters. i'm worried about how the polity will be unable to deal with anything that is more controversial than a mother's day card.

Brian Donohue said...

Maybe I'm just too old and stupid to understand these fine points of debate. I'll just drop my last two cents on this by saying that if I were a woman working in the public eye and someone called me a whore on a nationally broadcast radio show, I'd be fairly steamed and would want to know who this guy was and why he is given public air to spew hatred against me. Like I said in Wednesday's post, when you're given a public forum (even as a blogger), you take on a certain responsibility that may not apply in the locker room or even at the dinner table. But again, this view may simply be too passe, too antiquated, for this culture's taste. But if my "overreaction" takes me out of a mainstream understanding of this stuff, then let me continue to live in the margins.